Monday, February 9, 2009

The Truth about Ted Haggard

You might remember Ted Haggard, a former evangelical preacher who last year was outed as having homosexual sex with a male prostitute. He entered treatment and was discharged saying he was “completely heterosexual”. News about his has resurfaced as his new documentary is currently airing repeatedly on HBO – "The trials of Ted Haggard."

In his interviews, he states that he believes his sexuality is “complicated” and that he wants to stay married to his wife and does not see himself as gay. He admits to having same-sex attractions but believes he is heterosexual.

Nobody knows the truth about Haggard but Haggard himself!

I don’t know Haggard personally, but I can see how his sexuality might be complicated and that he might not be gay at all. I have treated hundreds of men like Haggard who are not gay and engage in same sex behaviors.

People have a hard time with men who have sex with men and are still


Here are just a few reasons people have difficulty with Ted Haggard which I totally understand:

1. Politically

Using the false belief that gays can change stops people from being willing to grant rights and freedoms to gays and lesbians. Lesbians and gays have fought hard to teach that one’s sexual orientation and behaviors cannot be changed.

Politically laws against GLBT use the concept of “you’re making a choice” to block obtaining freedoms like getting legally married, keeping a job and not being a risk of being fired just because you’re gay as well as keeping your house and not being kicked out simply for being gay—all of which can happen still in 2009 in most places around the country.

My problem with all of this media attention around Haggard is the absence of scholarly lesbians and gays and spokesmen who are not given time to talk about these issues. If this were an African-American issue, the media would bring on Black scholars and writers to address the political consequences of what is happening around Haggard's story.

2. The Bible.

Haggard has a history of as a preacher, for condemning gays and urging them to change.

Haggard still feels the Bible is not okay with homosexuality as he said on Larry King live.

But Haggard and others who interpret the Bible about homosexuality are wrong.

Scholar Rabbi Chaim Rapoport wrote a book called, Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View. In this book it is written that, “the Torah forbids homosexual activity as such: that much is clear from the testimony of both biblical and post-biblical literature. It does not condemn a homosexual disposition, because the Torah does not speak about what we are, but about what we do”.

Rabbi Rapoport position is clear in his book that the bible only talks of homosexual behavior, not of a gay identity or homosexual disposition. It never addresses those men and women who are oriented solely to a same sex attraction. He argues that while the Bible is against performing homosexual acts it never takes into account that one could be gay and lesbian and therefore expressing their true nature. Given this the Bible, from a contemporary point of view, does not address lesbians and gays.

While Rabbi Rapoport writes that the Torah forbids homosexual activity, he goes onto say that “there does not seem to be, however, any reference in Torah literature to the phenomenon of a ‘homosexual orientation’….”

Given this one cannot use the bible against homosexuality if there was not any room for it to be an identity which, today, we know it is.

For Haggard and men like him, it may not be his identity and so for him, his interpretation of the Bible might be useful. It is not useful for those who are GLBT's.

3. Bisexuality

Why can’t Bisexuality be what is happening for Haggard? Some men like Haggard choose to self-identify as Bisexual because they are sexually attracted to both men and women. Bisexuals will tell you that they are often emotionally more attracted to one gender over another. For others they are equally attracted sexually and romantically to both.

This is a self-identifying term and if he chooses not to lable himself in this way than he has that right. However, as a media figure he has the obligation to ensure that he is not speaking for bisexuals as well as lesbians and gays.

4. Gay Identity

For lesbians and gays, staying closeted was fraught with lying to themselves that they were essentially straight, with simply a “kinky” side or that their sexual interests were just that—sexual—and not about their identity. They now have great remorse over the lost years when they could have lived as openly gay men. The trauma of staying closeted was so painful that it strikes a nerve to learn that it’s possible to go through all that and still be straight.

I understand their strong reactions: The trauma of suppressing their identity is so profound that watching someone like Haggard remind them of their horrors they experienced while being closeted and of all the deprogramming it took them to understand they were truly gay.

We must make room for men and women like Haggard. Whether he is hiding, lying or telling the truth, there needs to be a place for men like him

What there is no place for is his anti-gay rhetoric that lesbians and gays can change, that the bible is against homosexuality and teaching young gays and lesbians that same-sex attractions are bad and wrong. They might be for the Haggard’s of the world, but to those who are truly gay and lesbian they are not!

Haggard's story need not be about attacking him, attacking GLBT's or using this as reasons to hate, discriminate and judge. That is what the Nazi's were all about wasn't it?

This needs to be about understanding and being curious about how complicated sexual behavior and identity can be!

There are many other reasons straight men have sex with men and are not gay which I write about at